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Tribute Dinner

On November 15, 1999, the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley commemorated Dr. Rausser’s six years of leadership, dedication, and innovation as dean of the college by hosting a dinner in Dr. Rausser’s honor at the World Trade Club at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

The evening was memorable. More than 100 people attended, including colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley as well as several other academic institutions and business enterprises across the country, friends, and family members. Many spoke in Dr. Rausser’s honor, celebrated his achievements, and shared memories of working with him in universities, private business, and government positions.


Master of Ceremonies

Rod Park

The Vice Chancellor Emeritus


Robert Berdahl



Ted Briggs

Past Chair, CNR Advisory Board


Peggy Lemaux

Cooperative Extension Specialist


Rachael Goodhue

Assistant Professor, UC Davis


Jill McClusky

Assistant Professor, Washington State University


George Judge

Professor Emeritus


Richard Gilbert and Thomas Jorde

Professors and Co-Founders, LECG


Ref Gomes

Vice President-Agriculture and Natural Resources


Barbara Allen-Diaz



Rick Standiford

Associate Dean of Forestry


Nancy Lewis

Assistant to the Dean


Stan Johnson

Vice Provost for Extension

Iowa State University


Carol Christ

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

NOVEMBER 15, 1999
Following are excerpts of some memorable comments shared by Dr. Rausser, his colleagues, and his friends:

Gordon Rausser

I predict that a new focal point will emerge in the early part of the next century on the Berkeley campus, driven principally by society’s concerns for sustainability. The College of Natural Resources will provide the intellectual leadership for this new focal point. It will conduct research and educational programs with emphasis on global citizenship. The emphasis will be on how to close the knowledge gaps that exist between California and the rest of the United States and between the developed world and the developing world. This international knowledge gap has helped trap the poorest of the poor to live lives of pain and unpredictability.

For me as an individual, UC Berkeley has provided an intellectual home, more congenial than I could have possibly imagined. It has been and still is a place of challenge where the seemingly impossible somehow becomes doable. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to tackle the challenges that the College of Natural Resources faced with my wonderful colleagues and faculty. And I thank you for sharing this evening with me and my family.

Robert Berdahl, Chancellor, UC Berkeley

I think the true test of an administrator at a university is whether or not distinguished people around the country see succeeding that person as an opportunity to continue leadership and contributions that have made a college into a great place. And judging by the view of people that we have met from around the United States, looking from the outside at this college, I think that you all as great supporters of this college, and Gordon as the Dean, can be inordinately proud of where this college has moved in the last 6 years.  Because they all, to a person, say this is a college that is on the move. This is a college that has a brilliant future and Gordon, it is due to you, and we are extraordinarily grateful to you.  Thank you.

Ted Briggs, Chair of the College of Natural Resources Advisory Board, UC Berkeley

Gordon put together an Advisory Board that was articulate, aggressive and experienced in a very broad base. From the point of view of the Advisory Board, it was a thrill working with a man of this type of leadership. He listened to our criticisms, and it was interesting because we would have a discussion of water usage between PG&E, the Sierra Club, and a cotton farmer. And if you think that wasn’t an alive discussion, then you just don’t know what’s going on in the area of natural resources. .

Gordon is very aggressive. He’s a gutsy man, we all know that. I can truly say that the man is a born leader. On top of this, he has guts. He put his job on the line on a continuous basis for his faculty, for his students, for the administration.

Brian Wright, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley

The qualities that made Gordon so successful as dean were qualities that helped influence me to come to Berkeley when he recruited me as chair. With Gordon, we all know we had better be the best and then better. We had better be good enough to know the best when we see it. This was—and still is—a refreshing change from the attitudes of some lesser schools I have known.

Imagination, initiative, and flair were not words that sprung to mind when I thought of college administrators until Gordon became dean. He took on the unenviable task of leading a directionless, dejected institution, weakened by voluntary retirements, under siege from the university and the state, at a time when project one was managing a series of mandated cuts in financial support. Right from the start, he grasped the opportunities hidden in the desperate situation, and set the college on a new road of transparency in resource allocation and unwavering focus on academic excellence.

Rachael Goodhue, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis

Gordon is a wonderful mentor. . . . He’s also very kind, very thoughtful. He knows us, tracks us in good ways, as well as bad; personal things as well as business things. And I think that best summarized, he’s just like my mother. I’ve got evidence—you know, being an economist and trained by Gordon, I need a little bit of evidence. When I broke up with my boyfriend of five years, I told both my mother and Gordon my sad tale. Both nodded sympathetically and said, “Well, at least now you’ll have more time to work.”

Professor Douglas Irwin, Dartmouth College

Working with Gordon was particularly delightful because of his infectious laugh and sense of humor. In the 1987 Economic Report of the President—that was President Ronald Reagan—we crafted the following line: “Agriculture subsidies are in short, toweringly expensive.” That was a direct poke at the diminutive Senator John Tower, a staunch advocate of such federal subsidies. I doubt that many readers noticed all the puns and other amusements that we took delight in putting in the chapter. But we had tremendous fun in the process. I do recall however, that his first draft of the chapter was nearly as long as the entire final report. I hope he still has a copy of the mammoth draft that we presented to him as an anchor wrapped in chains at the party celebrating the publication of the report.

George Judge, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley

When I think of Gordon, I think of this bright, brash, intelligent student and then young faculty member whom I met in 1969–70. During this visit, Gordon and his shadow, Stan Johnson, kept pestering me. I recognized that I was dealing with an original and who had a really great thirst and a capacity for knowledge. He was just the kind of person that you wish would stick their head in your office door and say, “Hey, could I work with you on a research problem?”

Cleve Willis, Professor, Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts

Gordon’s second child was born the night before his doctoral exam, at home, on the couch, and very much not planned that way. Gordon slept little that night. The oral examination the next day was underway, with Henry Wan (then of Economics, UCD) posing the questions. All was well until Henry threw an easy fast ball over the center of the plate. Gordon couldn’t answer it and asked for a repeat. The same pitch came in. And again. He did not understand or had never heard of the literature on that subject. Finally, another member of the committee asked Gordon, incredulously, “You have never heard of a putty clay model”? Apparently, in his state of fatigue, all Gordon heard was a reference to something like a “Puddintate model.” Gordon passed the exam.

David Zilberman, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley

Gordon’s perspective has always been that agricultural economics is not a marginal appendage to Economics but is a dynamic discipline, anchored in the real world, which opens new frontiers for economics.

I was very fortunate to benefit from Gordon’s warmth and humanity in times of personal crisis. I truly admire the way he raised his children, and in spite of all his achievements, his brightest smile appears when he speaks about his grandchildren.

Jeff Romm, Professor and Chair, Resource Institutions, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley

Under Gordon’s leadership, CNR has become a unified and strong college. He has worked to shape a unit that is central within both the Berkeley campus and the public agricultural and natural-resource areas. That is extraordinary accomplishment. Moreover, Gordon has established templates that will secure this kind of remarkable growth in the future. His is a stunning legacy.

View the complete tribute to Dr. Gordon Rausser


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